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Does Money Buy Happiness?

What has Matthew Killingsworth’s research, a senior fellow at Wharton School of business, found out?


Can money buy happiness? Yes says research conducted by Matthew A. Killingsworth, a senior fellow at the Wharton school of business at the University of Pennsylvania.

So money may not be able to buy you love, but it can get you happiness. This does not mean that one can simply buy happiness. It just means that more money can increase your ability to enjoy your life and therefore be a happier person. But there are obviously people who will never be happy for numerous reasons.

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According to his study, the level of happiness in people does increase as their income levels increase. This contradicts the previously held belief that once people reach $75,000 annual income, at least in America, their level of personal fulfillment in life does not go up.

Professor Killingsworth collected 1.726 million data points from almost 34,000 participants in his study. The research distinguished between two forms of well-being: people’s feelings during the moments of life (experienced well-being) and people’s evaluation of their lives when they pause and reflect (evaluative well-being. The researchers said that they found no evidence of an income threshold at which experienced and evaluative well-being diverged, suggesting that higher incomes are associated with both feeling better day-to-day and being more satisfied with life overall.

“Although an abundance of research suggests a positive relationship between income and well-being in general, at least two important and interrelated questions remain about the nature of this relationship,” said the researchers.

The first question asked deals with the way that income effects well-being across income levels: Does income stop mattering above some modest threshold, or is higher income associated with greater well-being across a wide range of income levels?

The second question concerns the degree to which income specifically affects certain aspects of well-being: Does income primarily affect people’s evaluations of their lives (evaluative well-being), or does it also affect how people feel during the day-to-day moments of their lives (experienced well-being)?

So what exactly did they find?

Larger incomes were strongly associated with both greater experienced well-being and greater evaluative well-being, said the researchers. Also, the shape of the relationship between log(income) and experienced well-being was extremely linear: There was no observed plateau in experienced well-being, based on higher income.

Wealthier people were found to have higher instances of positive feelings such as confidence. They also expressed fewer instances of negative feelings like anger or hate.


Obviously the $75,000 figure is relative. People living in different regions of the United States have different income levels for the same jobs. Also, people with larger families have more expenses and so they need to earn more money. The point of the study, however, is that whatever one does for a living, wherever one lives, or whatever they do with their income, more money does make one happier.



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